NEW YORK/JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN, JULY 14, 2017—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today condemned an armed robbery at an MSF clinic in Pibor, South Sudan early yesterday morning.
Two staff members were injured during the incident. Because of the violent nature of the attack, MSF partially withdrew its teams while reassessing the security situation in Pibor, impeding the ability to treat people desperately in need of care. This follows an earlier security incident in February 2016 when the clinic in Pibor was looted.
“MSF is the only organization providing much needed specialized health care services, such as basic surgery, in the area of Pibor,” said Fernando Galvan, deputy head of mission for MSF in South Sudan. “This event forced us to evacuate part of our team and reduce our activities at a time when people are in desperate need of healthcare.”
Early Thursday morning, at around 1:30 am, six to ten unidentified armed men broke into the facility and injured the two staff members after threatening other team members with guns. Office equipment, including phones and computers, were stolen.
This attack in Pibor is the latest in a series of robberies and lootings over the past six years that have forced MSF to reduce activities for periods of time, leaving patients with little access to healthcare.
MSF manages the outpatient department, the inpatient ward, the maternity ward, and the laboratory of the 37-bed medical facility in Pibor, and performs more than 6,300 outpatient consultations per month. In recent weeks, MSF has seen an increase in the number of patients coming to the clinic with acute malnutrition. Teams are also assisting increasing numbers of people in clinics in Likonguele and Gumuruk. With the onset of the rainy season, more and more people will require treatment for malaria.
MSF reiterates the call to all armed actors to respect international humanitarian law, which protects civilians, medical facilities, and the provision of humanitarian assistance.
“We are doing our best to provide essential medical care to people in Pibor who desperately need our assistance, but we need to be able to work in a safe environment. We also need our patients to feel safe when they come to the clinic. They should never have to worry about violent attacks happening within a medical facility. Hospitals must be safe places for patients and for medical workers providing them with healthcare,” Galvan said.